Just under a year ago, I faced a pretty monumental decision. At the age of seventeen, I had to weigh up two contrasting options for my future. In September 2012, I could have chosen to remain within the stable borders of the conventional education system, but stack up a minimum £27,000 of debt. My alternative was to enter the world of work and search for a modest income, whilst youth unemployment soars.
David Willetts, the science minister, has spoken: the Government, in this Olympic year, is ‘going for gold’ – enabling everyone to access university research free of charge.
Britain’s universities are one of the country’s most remarkable success stories. They have been beset by creeping centralised control since the 1980s, as well as funding cuts per student in the 1980s and 1990s that would have crippled most industries and almost any part of the welfare state. They have been assailed by populist critiques about their ‘privilege’, ‘exclusivity’ and ease, as well as their unfair subsidies to the middle and upper income cohorts – as if most campuses lived in a long Brideshead summer.
David Willetts, the Universities Minister, has been musing again* in a Times interview (pay wall) with my former colleague Michael Savage today. He makes the case for the 50p top rate of income tax:
It is very important that people see that when times are tough, we are, as they say, all in it together. That [...]
I have just been to see David Willetts, the universities minister, deliver a lecture at the Mile End Group at Queen Mary. Which was strange after the flapdoodle all day over his musings about selling extra university places — “on a needs-blind basis” — to the highest bidder.
There was even a protest, consisting of about 12 young [...]
I have an article in The Independent on Sunday in which I observe that David Willetts, who started the year as author of The Pinch, a polemic subtitled How the Baby Boomers Stole Their Children’s Future, ended it as universities minister, engaged in stealing our children’s future and requiring them to pay for it at 9 [...]
Now that many public sector bodies, charities and businesses are faced with the prospect of severe cutbacks in light of the government’s spending review, managers everywhere will be brainstorming to find their own ways of resolving the mess they’re in.
I rather like David Willetts’ suggestion that students look upon student fees as “more as an obligation to pay higher income tax” than a debt.
This emphasises the fact that former students generally earn considerably more over their lifetime than those who don’t go into higher education. It also emphasises the retrospective nature of the payback.
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter